Don’t Close Your Sermon Like That

The congregation leaves with your sermon close on their mind. In fact, when people ask members about the sermon, they often can only bring to mind that very last part. A while back, Peter Mead at the Biblical Preaching blog did a series on preaching that he called “finishing weak.” That was a good idea that I wanted to “riff” on. Two main problems came to mind.

1. Using The Same Ending

One of the most pervasive sermon close problems that many preachers have is the “recycled end.” That is when the preacher always ends all of the preacher’s sermons in exactly the same way. Sometimes the preacher might have two or three stock closes, but most of the time they are not tailored to the presented sermon.

I know you have heard the exact same sermon close with the exact same whoop or quoting the same verse. “There’s power in the name of Jesus, There’s hope in the name of Jesus….”

Some always have that “He went on the cross…He died for our sins…He rested in the grave…but EEEEAAARRRLLLLYY Sunday Morning he rose…” Some end with the exact same theme like a “relationship with Jesus” call that is not changed at all based on the sermon.

Do not use the same ending in every sermon! Your close should be tailored to the sermon that you just preached.

2. Ending Without Intentionality

It is very surprising, but many preachers spend little time thinking about the ending at all. We must recognize that our ending is what people will remember when they go home. It is the ending that gives the preacher a chance to drive home the very important points in the sermon.

However, some sermons just stop. They don’t end intentionally. Even some preachers who have reputations for being effective have a number of emotionally intensive portions to the sermon, but their sermon does not seem to progress because the preacher has not put together an intentional end.

We all have heard the sermon that goes on and on because the preacher has not decided how to end the sermon. There was one preacher who couldn’t decide if he was gonna whoop or not and so the sermon just continued on as the preacher decided what to do. Great preaching is open to the Spirit, but it is also paradoxically intentional about how it starts and how it ends…

Someone said, “like meat, a great sermon makes its own gravy.” As preachers we must recognize this. We cannot take gravy from yesterday’s meal and try to serve it on today’s meat. We can’t ignore the gravy all together either. When closing our sermons we must find a fitting close for this particular sermon that is based in this particular sermon. In addition, we must intentionally move the sermon forward in the way that our Spirit led planning has suggested.

Comments

comments

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

Posted in Preaching, Whooping
7 comments on “Don’t Close Your Sermon Like That
  1. PASTOR TONY CREDLE says:

    THOSE ARE SOME GOOD INSTRUCTIONS FOR ENDING A SERMON. I HAVE SEEN
    THIS BEFORE, BUT NEVER KNEW WHAT TO CALL IT, BUT THIS REALLY HELPS.

  2. Rev. P Wright says:

    Thank you for providing helpful information, especially for those who struggle with a celebrative closing. Again, thank you and I believe as you quoted, “Like meat, a great sermon makes its own gravy.”

  3. Pastor Toni Mack says:

    This is Great! Thank you.

  4. Excellent suggestion! Repetitive closings are commonly heard. Thanks for all of your wisdom…

  5. Edward Leo says:

    It’s essentially important the close is effective and intentional like the start.
    I hold that same thought that every sermon should have a tailored end suited to drive home the message as well as appeal to the lessons conveyed. No matter who it may be well rounded bible student will pick up your vibes either or just plainly let it known.

    Very thought provoking points to ponder,
    Thankyou

    In one of my devotions I conveyed to Elders that just as in the sanctuary services the priest had to daily change the 12 loaves of bread so we ought to have a fresh message and real bread for the hungry souls waiting to be fed to face the challenge of the week.
    Maranatha

  6. Minister L. Rabb says:

    I agree a great sermon makes it’s own gravy & it will have the congregation wanting more. The end is the celebration of Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection. It also should be tied to the sermon title. Great advice everyone!

  7. Chet says:

    There must always be a call to repentance.

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Revised Common Lectionary
Proper 14 (February 26, 2017)
  • OT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm: Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b
  • Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
  • Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
Af Am Heritage Lectionary
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